Saman­tha Army­tage

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Contents -

ad­mits to pon­der­ing the idea of re­tire­ment “ALL the time”.

Kick­ing back in a comfy sta­ble, some­where out Western Syd­ney way, there’s a big, mid­dle-aged, grey horse… en­joy­ing his re­tire­ment.

While he now no doubt spends his days play­ing golf and (with his hooves up) read­ing the rac­ing pages, back in his day Chau­tauqua was pretty spe­cial.

Rac­ing fans will know who I’m talk­ing about: The Grey Flash. sh. But for ev­ery­one else, this big, grey rey geld­ing was one of our most st loved and suc­cess­ful race­horses. rses.

Dur­ing his stel­lar ca­reer, the con­queror won six Group p One races, con­tribut­ing al­most $9 mil­lion to his su­per­an­nu­a­tion fund. Now that’s a lot of car­rots.

But then one day, at the ripe old age of eight, the big fella did some­thing dra­matic, stub­born and, I be­lieve, very, very clever.

He de­cided he didn’t want to do it any­more.

Re­mem­ber, this horse was bred to race. It’s all he’d ever known. And most highly trained horses will do what the hu­mans on their backs tell them to.

But one work­day Chau­tauqua got out of bed, stretched, walked to his of­fice (the bar­ri­ers) and then… just stood there. He re­fused to do his job. And then he re­fused again. And again. And again. He just didn’t want to gal­lop any­more. So he didn’t. Like that other old grey gam­bler Kenny Rogers, Chau­tauqua knew when to hold them, knew when to fold them and knew when to walk away. There was some­thing about this an­i­mal’s ab abil­ity to know his own mind that re­ally tick­led my fancy. Prob­a­bly be­cause, although my grey hair is bet­ter hid­den than h his, I too think about re­tir re­tire­ment ALL the time. Some­times, I just want t to stand in the start­ing gates of life and… re­lax. When you start re­fer­ring to your knees a as the good and bad one (rat (rather than the right and lef left), or check your su­per bal­anc bal­ance fort­nightly, that’s when I feel l like “do­ing a Chau­tauqua”. W When an ap­proach­ing group of “youths” fills you with panic, that’s when I feel like “do­ing a Chau­tauqua”. W When your back goes out mor more of­ten than you do, or you have a party and the nei neigh­bours don’t even no­tice no­tice, that’s when I feel like “do­ing a Chau­tauqua”. If you re­mem­ber when fame was a by by-prod­uct of tal­ent, or when your doc­tor tells you some prob­lem is “nor­mal for your age”, that’s when I feel like “do­ing a Chau­tauqua”.

If you re­alise the po­lice, pilots and politi­cians are all younger than you, or you’re so an­cient you can re­mem­ber go­ing a whole day without tak­ing a pic­ture of any­thing, that’s when I feel like “do­ing a Chau­tauqua”.

If you’re so old that you buy ex­pen­sive cheese then, yes, you too will oc­ca­sion­ally feel like “do­ing a Chau­tauqua”.

“I too think about re­tire­ment ALL the time”

How­ever, though I feel a deep spirit-an­i­mal con­nec­tion to this stub­born le­gend, un­like him I haven’t won six Group One races.

In fact, in my fi­nal year of high school I was beaten in the 800 me­tres by a girl who was wear­ing clogs.

So un­less I win Lotto, or the gov­ern­ment low­ers the re­tire­ment age to 40, or the Hawkes fam­ily want to adopt me and put me up rent-free in an ad­join­ing Syd­ney sta­ble, I won’t be “do­ing a Chau­tauqua”.

This old grey mare will drag her sorry rump out of bed at spar­row’s to­mor­row for (track) work. See you Mon­day morn­ing… Saman­tha co-hosts Sun­rise, 5.30am week­days, on the Seven Net­work.

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